Tuesday 30 April 2024

Moving Leaves

    For a good part of last year and again this year, I have focused a lot of my time on trying to do things outside that will lessen the chance of forest fires burning down our place. Yesterday, I worked up behind the barn, trying to clear the years of accumulation of leaves that had built up there.  First, I took down an old wooden fence that might have led fire to the barn, then I started raking the leaves away from the building.

    One of the big problems I have about doing all of this clearing and cleaning, is where to put all of the debris that I am creating.  Luckily, leaves are easy, I can put the old rotting leaves onto the garden, where they will slowly add texture and nutrients to the soil.

    I carted the leaves down to the garden and spread them around.  I will try to get my old rototiller started and till the leaves under today.

 View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Monday 29 April 2024


    Several times a day, Kona, my wife, and I walk around the pond for a little exercise.  For Kona, it is often just an excuse to run into the nearby woods and bark at deer or other critters that are in there.  Every once and a while, our cat Lucifer will join in the walk and slowly follow us as we perimeter the pond.  The photo shows Lucifer walking the planks over the pond’s outflow.

    For a while last year, I was pretty sure that Lucifer was dying.  She lost a tremendous amount of weight, was listless, and not eating.  She began urinating like crazy.  I feared it was the end.  However, my wife started really spoiling her with special food; bits of chicken, bits of cheese, broth, and other things, and Lucy perked up and sort of got back to her spunky self, although she is still very thin and still filling up her litter box twice as quickly as she did before. 

    Remembering the dire condition she was for a while makes it really gratifying to see her join us on our pond walks. 

Feel free to take a look at my paintings:   davidmarchant2.ca


Sunday 28 April 2024

A Mice Invasion

    As regular readers know, I have been going plowing through my old diaries, looking for the interesting bits, and since I really didn’t have anything current to blog about today, I picked out something from my 1989 diary to blog about.  

    In the fall, we generally have an influx of mice sneak into our house, figuring that food and warmth were more readily available there, than outside, living under the snow. 

    I always hate to kill animals, especially something like mice, that are very important food source for a lot of other animals and hunting birds during the winter, so I would catch them in a live trap, then during the night when I heard them rattling around in the trap trying to get out, I would get up, pick up the trap, and drive it to some distant wooded area in the neighborhood, and let the captives out.  This of course, was not conducive to a restful night of sleep, but I made myself do it.  

    Below is some mice  information from my 1989 diary:

September was prime mice season in our house.  My dairy tallied the catches in our live trap:

Sept. 2nd - 1 mouse

Sept. 3rd - 1 mouse

Sept. 4th - 2 mice

Sept. 5th - 3 mice

Sept. 6th - 1 mouse

Sept. 8th - 3 mice

Sept. 11th-2 mice

Sept. 12th-1 mouse

I did of course, have to drive all of these captured mice out to some distant point in the neighborhood and release them into the woods.  Fortunately, by the middle of September, we caught no more mice in the house.

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Saturday 27 April 2024

Tomato Plants on Hold

    I am feeling both frustrated and overwhelmed.  There are so many things that need to be done this time of year and I just can’t get to all of them.  One of my immediate concerns have to do with my tomato plants.  I planted the seeds in the middle of March, they grew well under the growing lights in the house, and now they really need to be planted in the greenhouse.

    The problem is that at present, my greenhouse has no roof.  

    Over the winter during some very strong winds, several panes of glass blew off the roof of my greenhouse and broke.  I no longer have any spare panes to replace the broken ones, so I decided to redesign the roof of my greenhouse, replacing some of the glass with sheets of chloroplast (plastic sheets that are constructed like cardboard) along the upper strip of the roof.  I will use glass on the bottom section.  

    I took off all of the glass on the greenhouse roof and added some new wooden boards on the existing supports to better secure the chloroplast sheets and panes of glass.  Then I waited and waited for days waiting for days that were warm enough so I could paint those added boards before I put on the roof.  I was able to paint the upper part (which will support he chloroplast), but haven’t yet been able to paint the lower part that will hold the glass.

    In the meantime, my tomato plants, still growing in the house are getting bigger and bigger.  They need to be planted in the greenhouse, but I can’t do that until I get the roof on.

    You hear all the time about how difficult it is to be a farmer, with all of the problems that arise when growing crops.  Even with my tiny attempts to grow vegetables, it can be frustrating.

    Below is my greenhouse, with its unfinished roof.

Take a look at my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Friday 26 April 2024

"An Object of Beauty" by Steve Martin

    The theme for this month’s Book Club at the McBride Library was “Art and Artists”.  I chose the book An Object of Beauty written by Steve Martin.  This is what I had to say about it:

            A couple of days ago, a painting by Gustav Klimt sold at auction for $32 million dollars.  Think about that, not $32 thousand, but $32 million dollars.  That is the world that Steve Martin lets the reader view in his novel, An Object of Beauty.

            This novel, written by Steve Martin, the well known comedian, is a serious work of fiction, it isn’t, as you might expect, “wild and crazy”.  It is set in the art districts of New York City, during the years, 1990 to about 2010.  While It is written in the first person through the eyes of a rather strait-laced person named Daniel, the novel is mostly about his female friend Lacey, who he had met in one of his university art classes. 

        Lacey, a fellow art student, was very attractive, flirty, spirited, ambitious, and fun to be with.  The two continued their friendship after graduating university, when they both ended up in the art district of New York City.  Daniel becomes a writer for the  Artnews magazine, and the two would occasionally meet for lunch to catch up on each other’s life.  The novel is basically Daniel telling the story of what Lacey was up to.

        Lacey’s career in the art world started with a low level job at Sotheby’s, the famous art auction house, but that first job was anything but glamorous.  It was a low paying job doing research in in the dingy basement of the business, but Lacey’s cleverness and good looks, soon enable her to move to a position upstairs, where she began working with the ultra-wealthy art buyers who streamed into the auction house, looking for the paintings that were to be auctioned off.  

        Lacey was a fast learner and became very effective in her work, schmoozing with the wealthy customers.   It enabled her to climb higher in the art house business.  Each advancement, increased her income.  As she came to understand the art trade and its wealthy customers, with her extra money, she began to dabble herself in purchasing some of the less expensive art.  

        She left the Sotheby’s job to begin working for a private art dealer who had noticed her at Sothebys.  This new job sometimes sent her on international trips to arrange art deals, giving her more knowledge of the art market, increasing her income, and allowing her more interaction with the very wealthy art buyers.  

        Eventually, with the nest egg she had saved, Lacey was able to set up her own gallery and be in business for herself.  Things really began to look up for Lacey, but soon the boom and bust cycles of the art industry began to complicate her life.

        I found the descriptions of the extremely wealthy art buyers and the fluctuations of the art business, one of the most interesting parts of the novel.  At one point, Lacy was sent on a commuter train with a $150,000 painting to deliver to a buyer, but as she got out of the taxi at the purchaser’s house, the owner come running out, telling her not to come any closer, and to go back to New York City with the painting.  It seems that if she had delivered the painting to the new owner’s house, he would have to pay $10,000 in sales tax, whereas if it was shipped by a reputable carrier, the sales tax would not apply. 

        It was interesting to see how fickle the price of art is.  Early on, Lacy bought herself a small rather uninteresting, Andy Warhol print of some flowers, for $16,000,   Sometimes later, after Warhol’s famous print of Marilyn Monroe sold for $11 million dollars, all of the other Warhol’s prints, including Lacey’s, skyrocketed in price, even though her’s really wasn’t very attractive, and was exactly the same print it was when Lacey purchased it.

        Shortly after Lacy bought her gallery, which really strained her finances, and days before her grand opening, 911 happened, and all of New York City and its art market was stopped in its tracks.  Lacy really struggled, but fortunately the art market rebounded rather quickly and she began to do well.  

        Years later, she decided to upscale and move her gallery to a better location, again pushing her finances to the brink.  This time, just as she was about to open, the 2008 stock market crash occurred. which dried up the art market.  

             Midway through the novel, Lacey had asked Daniel to come to one of Sotheby’s art auctions and keep bidding on a painting, until she signaled, Daniel questioned whether it was legal, and Lacey assured him that it was, so he did it. However, later in the novel, the FBI became involved, investigating the bid, and as a result, Lacey’s reputation as an honest broker dissolved, destroying her business, and Dan, because of his involvement, felt Lacey had betrayed their friendship, and also caused his relationship with another woman, who he who he really loved, and had hoped to marry, to come crashing to an end, because she no longer saw Dan as an honest person.

        The storyline of the novel was rather slow moving, but I did really enjoy all of the insights into the high-level art market, which was fascinating.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Thursday 25 April 2024

What's in the Backpack?

    A friend of mine who had been reading my blogs about the Ozalenka, contacted me, wondering what was carried in the backpacks he saw in the photos.  The trips I took up to the Ozalenka were just day trips, so in my backpack, I only took those things that I figured I would need for the day.  Because, you never really know what might happen while hiking up into the wilderness, I always take a few things that might come in handy in case something unexpected happens.

    The most important thing I always carry is water.  While there are usually clear safe streams that drinkable,  they are not always readily available, so I always take a couple of water bottles.  Water always adds a lot of weight to the daypack, so I always have to carefully judge how much water weight, I want to carry around. 

    Another important thing I always pack is a warm hat, as well as the sun hat that I will wear.  I also take a windbreaker  jacket.  The winds can be very strong in the alpine.  If you get caught in the rain, or have to spend an unexpected night up in the alpine, getting hypothermia can happen, so having some extra layers of clothing is very important. 

        These days, I would certainly take my cell phone, even though in the alpine, there would probably not be any cell signal, but you might get lucky and catch a signal in an emergency.

    Naturally, the main thing on a day trip of hiking, is a lunch.  It doesn’t take long expending a lot of energy, to start thinking about snacks and food.  Beside a sandwich and an apple, trail mix, and maybe a candy bar are always appreciated.  When you are working hard, extra salt and sugar are important, even if they are not very nourishing.

    I don’t take any bear spray.  Usually I hike in a group, and trust that all the noise we make will scare most wildlife away.

    I once was proud of myself for buying a whistle to take along on hikes, thinking that blowing a whistle would be a lot better than yelling for help, if I got lost.  Then Glen, the most experienced hiker in the valley, told me a story about a friend who used a whistle.  As he blew, he noticed that a grizzly bear he spotted in the distance began moving toward him.  It seemed that the grizzly bear thought that the whistling was coming from a marmot, a groundhog sized rodent that lives in the alpine that makes a whistling sound.  The hiker immediately stopped his whistling and got out of the area.

    A really heavy backpack is not much fun to lug around, but as you use the water and food inside it, it gets lighter.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Wednesday 24 April 2024

Ten Years of Jamming

   Yesterday, I was thinking about our jam, and trying to come up with what song we should start with (Will the Circle Be Unbroken), then for some reason, my brain flashed onto the fact that it was 2024.   That was followed by remembering that our jam first started in 2014, ten years ago.  I decided to check to see what the date of that first jam was, and when I checked the photo I had, it was dated April 22, 2014, exactly 10 years and 1 day ago.  I thought that was quite a coincidence.

    That first jam started when I overheard a conversation between a few people who were getting together to play music, and I asked to be invited.  That jam was held at the Curling Lounge at the McBride Arena.  There were four of us, who gathered around to play music, while most of the curlers in the lounge, just continued with their conversations. 

    The four of us had fun playing, so in the weeks that followed, we met at different houses to play.   I wanted to set up something regular and asked Naomi, the McBride Librarian, if we would be able to use the Library Annex (an empty house next to the library, that the library owned and used for some of their activities).  “Sure,” Naomi said, and since the library was opened nights on Tuesday, that is when we gathered to play.   We became the Tuesday Night Jam. 

    We were an “open” jam, that welcomed anyone who wanted to play.  As word got around the community, more and more closet musicians started coming, and every Tuesday, the rather dingy-looking annex rang out with music.  Visiting guitar-playing tourists and young guitar-playing international volunteering farm workers would show up to join us.  Below is a 2016 photo from one of those Tuesday nights.

    When the McBride Library moved to its fancy new “digs” on Main Street, our jam started playing there, right in the library, on Tuesday nights.  This caused our numbers to really swell, as unknowing locals came in to the library and discovered us playing.  Below is a 2019 photo showing our Tuesday Night Jam at our peak density.

    In 2020, Covid 19 and the many restrictions that it caused, basically closed down normal library operations, and the jam was no longer able to play there, and gatherings were considered a “No-No” anyway, so the jam went on a long hiatus, and we all were doomed to do our playing alone, at home.  Covid really did have a negative effect on the jam.  We lost a lot of our players, when many moved away.

    A couple of years later, when things began to loosen up, during the winter I started renting the Legion Hall, a large open hall, where we could all spread out when we played.  (Photo below)

    When the summers arrived, The Tuesday Night Jam, started to play on the porch of McBride’s Train Station.  While it was nice to be outside watching the setting sun illuminate the view of McBride, weather was always an issue.  It often cold or it rained, so we would end up back in the Legion Hall.

    This past winter we started playing in the lobby of the train station, which although small, has wonderfully loud acoustics.  The photo at the top of the blog shows most of our basic group at last night’s jam.  Absent in the photo were three people who generally come to sing or watch, and a few of our regular musicians, who weren’t there last night.

    Our jam plays a wide spectrum of the music, songs that our musicians bring in and want to try.  Folk, Blues, Rock, Country, and even some show tunes.  Songs by Woody Guthrie, Chuck Berry, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Box Car Willy, Randy Newman, The Byrds, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell, Rogers and Hammerstein, Neil Young, Hank Williams, Gordon Lightfoot, The Band, and Don Henley, to name a few.

    Our Tuesday Night Jam is always the highlight of my week, something I start looking forward to  starting the Wednesday, the day after our last jam.  I have been amazed at how much we all have increased our musical skills, and how much fun we still have playing together, after all these years.

You can view my paintings (my other passion) at:  davidmarchant2.ca


Tuesday 23 April 2024

Flowers in the Ozalenka

    On those hikes I have taken to the Ozalenka Valley, it is not only the mountain vistas that catch my eye; it is also the many varieties of flowers that can only  be seen growing the rarified extremes of the alpine.  I don’t know the names of most of these plants, and am happy just to be able to enjoy their uniqueness and beauty.  

    I was surprised to come upon the Indian paintbrushes that grow up there.  Paintbrushes  are common enough growing down on the Robson Valley lowlands, but the ones up on the alpine have a different color.  Those in the alpine have developed a more reddish-rose color (photo below left), while the native ones growing around our property are orangish (below right).

    Below is a low growing, thick leaved plant that appears to be a variety of Violet.


View my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

Sunday 21 April 2024

Exploring the Ozalenka Alpine

    While most touristy mountain areas are overrun with people, the Ozalenka Alpine allows one pristine and extraordinary views in an atmosphere that makes you think that you are one of the first people to explore the area.  This “private” viewing allows for time to contemplate what you are seeing without all the noise and distractions of well known tourist destinations.  You can sit down on a rock and enjoy the quiet, as you scan the horizons.

    The times I have been up in the Ozalenka, it has been in a small group, so there were some conversations as we hiked, and while we stopped to rest, but I still felt like I was alone in the wilderness.   Even if there was another party up there hiking, the area is so huge, you would probably not be aware of their presence.

    Here are some photos from one of our hikes.

Take a look at my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Saturday 20 April 2024

Those Damn Porcupines Will Eat Anything

    Growing up in Indiana, I never knew much about porcupines.  I did know that they had sharp quills, that they could throw at you if they thought they were in danger, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.  

    One of the things I loved during all my years working at the BC Forest Service were the coffee breaks, and all of the stories that were told by the “old timers”.   It was there that I learned some fascinating things about porcupines; their strange tastes, and destructive appetite.  It seems that porcupines crave and chew on things that I always thought were inedible.  They love to eat plywood and the car parts.

    Porcupines love salt and that includes the salt in plywood glue and wood preservatives.  They will eat the creosote coating on fence posts, tires on vehicles, radiator hoses, and even objects covered in human sweat, like tool handles, clothes, and leather.

    During our Forestry coffee breaks, I heard many a story about the damage that porcupines did to structures made of plywood out in the bush.  They would gnaw away big chucks of unprotected plywood.  When we made the cabins or outhouses in the Ozalenka Valley or in other wilderness areas, the lower part of the buildings were always covered with tin roofing, or else they would fall victim to the porcupine’s appetite.  

    The biggest surprise to me about porcupine appetites was their love for tires and the plastic insulation that coated wires.  I heard many stories about hikers and hunters who had driven way out in the bush, leaving their trucks parked and alone for several days, as they ventured off into the wilderness.    Days later, when they returned, they tried unsuccessfully to start their trucks, only to discover that porcupines had chewed up the vehicle’s wiring or tires.  These events always ended in a very long and unexpected hike back to civilization for help.

    In the photo above, avid hiker Glen Stanley, secures his truck behind the fencing around the perimeter of Ozalenka Valley Trail parking area.  The fencing was put up to keep the porcupines from damaging the vehicles.

Take a look at my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Friday 19 April 2024

Old Bridges of the Ozalenka Trail

    On that first hike up to the Ozalenka Valley, one of the most memorable experiences I had was crossing over the many creeks, carefully balancing with my arms out, as I slowly and carefully, made my way over the logs suspended over the roaring creeks.  After the Ozalenka Alpine Club was formed and many volunteer hours of work, make-shift bridges were constructed.  Above are some photos of some of those old, retired first bridges, which have now been replaced by wider and more substantial bridges.  

    It is no longer necessary to ford the big creek at the trailhead, because there is well-built bridge for hikers to cross.   On the many crossings over creeks up the 7 km (4 mile) trail, regular bridges now provide a much easier and safer hike.  Below is an example of one of the newer bridges that now dot the trail.

    Certainly, not enough praise can be showered upon all of those volunteers, who spent days making the trail better for everyone who wants to make the hike.  A mountain trail like the Ozalenka needs constant maintenance, as trees fall, and high rushing water from snowmelt, wash away bridges. 

    The steep uphill trail can be exhausting enough without having to worry about falling into a rushing creek.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Thursday 18 April 2024

Ozalenka Club and Cabin

This happened in 1989:

        The week following our initial hike up into the Ozalenka, thirteen people, many of whom had been on the hike, met at John and Linda Bird’s house to form the Ozalenka Alpine Club.  We were all eager to create a hiking club and to try and preserve the Ozalenka drainage from being destroyed by motorized vehicles, something that was becoming more and more of a local threat.  About a week later, we approached the Forest Service and were able to secured a promise that through their Recreation mandate, they would be willing to kick in some funds for the club’s effort to build a cabin for hikers in the Ozalenka alpine.

    Over the following year, volunteers from the club an others volunteered their time and labor to build a cabin in the Ozalenka.  We did get funding from the Forest Service, mostly to pay for a helicopter to ferry in the building supplies to the cabin site.  Once completed, the cabin contained beds, a kitchen complete with propane burners, pots and pans, and eating utensils.  There was a wood stove and firewood for heat for skiers that wanted to use the area during the winter.  Later a solar panel was added that provided some electrical power to the cabin.

    The creation of a cabin enabled a lot of hikers to spend an extended time in the alpine, without having to lug so much gear on their backs, hiking up the trail.  The cabin was rented out and became very popular, attracting a lot of hikers from outside the Robson Valley, who had heard about it, as word spread.  

    That original cabin has now been replaced with a new and better cabin, but I have not been up there to check that one out.  All of these photos are from that first cabin. 

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Hey, it's Barb

    Yesterday, we had to do the one hour drive to Valemount to a dog groomer we know, in order to get a summer haircut for Kona.   Valemount is the nearest neighboring village to McBride, and although it is 85 km (53 miles) away, we do have friends that live there, so whenever we travel there, we always seem to run into a few.

    When we drive to Valemount, we usually take the shortcut at Tete Jaune, which enables us to go over the old Tete Jaune Bridge.  The bridge over the Fraser River is very photogenic, nestled with the Cariboo Mountains in the background.  If the weather is good, I always like to stop and take a photo.

    Yesterday when we stopped, my wife suggested that she walk out onto the bridge in order to add an accent to the scene.  She got out of the car and started walking to the bridge, and when she got on the bridge, a dog appeared advancing from the opposite side.  Then a walker appeared.

    From my distance, I couldn’t tell who the walker was until the two of them and the dog walked to me.  I was surprised to see that it was my old co-worker from Forestry; Barb.  I hadn’t seen Barb for about five years, so it was good to run into her again.  Barb, who lives in Tete Jaune, was always very outdoorsy, so I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised to see it was her, taking a morning walk.  She explained that the dog wasn’t hers, but lived at a house she always passes on her walks, and every time she goes by, the dog joins her on the walk, thinking the walk is for him.

    One of the things I like about living in a small rural community is knowing a lot of people and running into them periodically, as you do life.

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca 

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Hooded Mergansers

    Hooded Mergansers are interesting looking ducks.  That’s the male with the bold white stripe across the head and the distinguished colored pattern on his body.  The female on the right, is not as brilliantly colored as her mate, but she does sport a punk haircut.  This pair of ducks return to my pond every year.      

    Hooded Mergansers are tree nesters.  Around my pond, I have a handful of nesting boxes attached to trees, about 10 feet (3 meters) off of the ground, and the female uses the boxes to hatch her brood.  Below is a photo I took of a female, just coming out of her nesting box, taking a break from sitting on the eggs in order to go get some food on the pond and get some exercise.

You can view my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Saturday 13 April 2024

The First Trip To The Ozalenka Alpine

        Today, the Ozalenka Alpine is a highly regarded and popular hiking destination in the Robson Valley, but back in 1989, it was unknown.  I was along on that first group hike up to the Ozalenka and below is how the hike went for me.  I probably have some photos from that first hike hiding away somewhere, but the photos you see here are from later treks to the Ozalenka.

On Sunday, September 3rd there was a group hike planned up into the newly named Ozalenka Alpine.  Ozalenka supposedly meant “grizzly bear” in some indigenous language.  Very few local people had ever been up into the Ozalenka.  The area had been “discovered” by Glen Stanley, a local hiking and climbing enthusiast, and his descriptions of the place, peaked the curiosity of some of us other local hikers.  Glen volunteered to lead an expedition for us interested trekkers, up to the Ozalenka, and set the date for the hike.

         I was very eager to see the Ozalenka and so got up at 6:00 the morning of the hike, because I had planned to bike to the gathering point, so my wife could have use of the car during the day, but then I discovered that my neighbor Kjell was also going on the hike, so I was able to wait around at his house until 7:30 and go along with him. 

    There were twelve of us that met up at the trail head to do the hike.  Lanky, mountain goat, Glen led us into the bush along one of the tributaries of the Dore River.  Almost immediately after starting off we encountered, and had to ford a wide creek.  Everyone else had brought some runners along to wear fording the creek, but I was unaware of crossing a major creek, and was wearing my good leather hikers, so I took off my boots, hung them around my neck, and crossed the creek bare-footed.  The water was shockingly cold, almost stinging my bare feet.  

    It took hours to make the slow, unrelenting, climb up to the alpine following a steep creek.  We had to cross the creek multiple times, balancing on logs.  Once we got above the tree line, an extensive alpine area opened up to us.  It cradled three small lakes.   After some initial explorations roaming through the lush rolling flowered alpine, some of us seeking a new vista, climbed to the top of a very long narrow ridge that overlooked the next valley. Spectacular!   

    We saw a few caribou and heard wolves.  It was a wonderful and enchanting experience.

    My feet began to hurt even before starting back down the trail, and as I descended, the pain got intensified.  I always found that going downhill was more painful than climbing, because my long toes always jammed up against the toe of the boot.

    It was already dark by the time I got back down to that first big creek, and I discovered that while we had gone, the creek’s flow and it’s depth had increased a lot, due to all of the alpine snow melt that had occurred during the day.  I was totally exhausted, and upon entering the creek’s frigid water and crossing, I slipped on one of the underwater rocks, falling, and drenching myself.

        Once I had struggled to the bank of the creek, I just lay there for a while exhausted, until I could work up enough energy to get back on my feet and walk to the trucks.  I didn’t get home until 9:00.


View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca